Car insurance is a must-have for drivers in the United States, but a car insurance policy with good coverage isn’t cheap. For many drivers, it pays to know your options and shop around. If you are or were a member of the US armed forces, you have a number of specialized auto insurance options available to you.
Indeed, many car insurance companies offer policies specifically for veterans, disabled veterans and active-duty US service members, helping them save big on auto insurance rates. “Current and former military [personnel] should shop for insurance just like everyone else,” says Dan Karr, CEO and founder of ValChoice, an independent platform for insurance analytics and ratings. “This means claims handling should be included as an important factor. The difference for former and current military [personnel] is they may have additional options available that may not be available to the general public.”
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It also makes sense to do your due diligence. “Keep in mind that the lowest price isn’t always the ‘cheapest’ option,” says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communication at the Insurance Information Institute. “Make sure the company you choose is reputable, and that you’re comfortable with the service you get from the insurance professionals you speak to. Your state insurance department or online consumer information sites may provide information on consumer complaints by company to help you choose the right insurance company for your needs.”
There are also auto insurance company options that only serve service members and veterans, offering them prices that larger car insurance organizations typically can’t match. USAA is one of the best-known, lauded for its great rates and service (including accident forgiveness, safe driver discounts, and defensive driving discounts). Technically, you don’t even have to be a service member or veteran to qualify with USAA, as their families are also eligible for coverage.
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Here are the best military car insurance companies for military members and veterans according to experts and customer ratings on popular review sites.
Comparison of best car insurance companies for military and veterans
|Company||Military service discounts||Additional benefits|
|USAA||Continuing family coverage, military installation storage.||Award-winning service and coverage.|
|Geico||Military personnel, emergency deployment.||Dedicated hotline for military customers.|
|Armed Forces Insurance||Company membership determined by military status. Additional discounts include good driving record and multiple cars.||DOD civilian employees and NOAA and PHS commissioned officers eligible.|
|Direct Auto Insurance||Military personnel, depending on state (see above).||Flexible plans available to accommodate military demands.|
The best car insurance companies for members of the military and veterans
Whether you’re an active-duty military service member, a military veteran or a family member of either one, there’s no better car insurance provider than the United Services Automobile Association (USAA). The company has been around since 1922, and began when 25 US Army officers decided to insure each other’s vehicles. Today, the insurance company serves millions of members.
Though only people who fall into those categories can take out a car insurance policy with USAA, they’ll find themselves eligible for cheaper rates than they’d get anywhere else. According to their website, customers who switch their auto insurance policies to USAA save an average of $707 on their auto insurance annual premiums.
Those low rates for auto coverage are a big draw, but they’re not all USAA members enjoy. USAA auto insurance is routinely lauded for the services it provides, which include accident forgiveness, liability coverage, and the availability of flexible payment plans. USAA’s towering customer satisfaction rates even drove The Financial Brand to proclaim it “The most beloved financial brand on Earth.” That’s high praise, but USAA customers would be hard pressed to disagree.
The bottom line is that if you’re eligible for a car insurance policy with USAA, it’ll probably be your best option. Make sure you at least get a car insurance quote from USAA before making your final decision.
Geico routinely tops lists of the best auto insurance policies available, and while the company doesn’t quite match car insurance rates with USAA, the military discount it offers to current and former service members make it the best choice of the more mainstream auto insurance policy providers.
All active duty military and retired military personnel, as well as members of the National Guard or Reserves, are eligible for up to 15% off their total insurance rate premiums. Given Geico’s industry-low prices, this additional insurance discount makes the company’s auto insurance policies affordable. Geico also offers an additional Emergency Deployment Discount to customers who deploy into a military base in imminent danger pay areas, as designated by the Department of Defense.
The customer service for which Geico is so beloved extends to military personnel, as well. The company has a special team dedicated to military assistance, as well as a toll-free line dedicated to serving these customers (it can be reached easily at 1-800-MILITARY).
Service members and veterans looking for affordable car insurance coverage from an insurer that’s recognized around the world should consider Geico as they make their selection.
Armed Forces Insurance
Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) may not be as well-known as USAA, but it serves the same military family customers and offers similarly low rates. It’s also even older! It was founded in 1887 by military leaders. That alone makes AFI worth checking out if you think you might be eligible for auto insurance coverage.
One of the most glaring differences between AFI and USAA is reflected in the companies’ customer satisfaction and ratings. While USAA is routinely praised by customers and has been given high ratings by a variety of organizations, opinion on AFI is more divided. AM Best has given AFI a B++ financial strength rating (as compared to USAA’s A++), while Yelp and other customer review platforms are filled with disagreements about the company’s level of service.
That said, one major draw for AFI is that its eligibility requirements are broader than USAA’s. Not only are active duty and retired service members and their children and spouses able to get coverage with a military discount, but the same applies to Department of Defense civilian employees, officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service. If you fall into one of those groups (or have in the past), AFI may be your cheapest insurance company option.
Direct Auto Insurance
Like with Geico, you don’t have to be military personnel to sign up for coverage with Direct Auto Insurance, but if you are, you’ll be eligible for a host of military car insurance discounts. Before you get started, though, it’s worth mentioning that these military auto insurance discounts only apply to active members of the military, not veterans.
If you are a member of any branch of the US Armed Forces, including the National Guard or Reserves, you can qualify for up to 25% off many different kinds of insurance coverage, including comprehensive, collision, bodily injury, uninsured motorist and property damage. Direct also offers flexible payment options designed to make covering your premiums easier.
Beyond car insurance, Direct Auto Insurance also offers term life insurance, roadside assistance memberships and vehicle protection plans.
The discounts and customer service that Direct offers makes the company worth checking out, but only residents of seven states are eligible for a military discount through Direct. If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina or Texas, make sure you get a car insurance policy quote from Direct and factor it into your process.
5 things to do when applying for car insurance as a military member or veteran
- Look for quotes from a variety of insurance companies. Make sure to include companies that offer military discounts, as well as those that only serve the military.
- Choose the plan that makes the most sense for you, based on the car insurance discounts for which you qualify, the company’s customer service, coverage options, and the final price.
- Gather documented proof of your identity and your military service such as your military ID (or the service of your family member, along with proof of relation).
- Submit the appropriate documents to your insurer of choice, then wait for final approval.
- Once your policy takes effect, drive safely!
Whichever auto insurer you choose, your military service may potentially mean savings. For that reason, it’s important to always check your eligibility and inquire about the rates and discounts that service members, veterans, and their families can get.
Written by Scott Fried for Roadshow.
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